Back to self-publishing.
In order to succeed, you have to do your research! There are a bunch of books that can help you on this subject (I won't even bore you with the hundreds of titles that pop up), but if you want the abridged version, here it is:
Step one: Write the book.
Duh! Sounds obvious. But seriously, think about it, if you don’t have the book written, you can’t go on to step two. And we’re not just talking about having completed the first draft either. We’re talking about multiple drafts (I’ll go more into this in my next post).
Step two: Have someone critique the book.
You may have brought your book through three drafts already but may be amazed to find that it still has errors in it! That’s because YOU are the one who wrote it and YOU are the one who is reading and critiquing it. Your eyes will skip over errors your brain automatically fixes along the way. Having someone else—someone who doesn’t know what to expect—read it and critique it will remedy this.
Critiquing is usually a chapter by chapter review of your work. It helps make sure your work is where you want it to be. Does the story flow? Are the characters believable? Are there any errors in the plot? Continuity errors? Etc. The easiest way to do this is join either a writers’ group (your local library or book store, if not online, will have information on this) or a critique group. Check out: http://www.critiquecircle.com/ Just make sure your work is copyrighted (http://www.copyright.gov/) so nobody steals it. It’s just $35 and will save you a severe headache!
Once you’re in a writers’ or a critique group you can start the work. These groups usually operate under the metaphor one hand washes the other, meaning they will critique your work if you critique theirs. It’s actually fun. You’ll be amazed at the comments you receive, things you would have never expected. Often, members of your group will make valuable suggestions.
This is a MUST (or at least highly recommended) for any serious writer!
Step three: Have someone edit the book.
There are four types of editing: Developmental editing, line editing, copy editing, and proof reading.
Developmental editing: The editor reads the book and lets the author know what doesn't make sense, what needs to be tightened, what needs to be changed to fix the pacing of the novel, etc.
Line editing: The editor reads line by line, noting grammar mistakes, correcting passive sentences, and correcting redundancies and punctuation.
Copy editing: The editor specifically hones in on grammar and spelling.
Proof reading: The editor does exactly as it sounds: reads! He/she reads through the manuscript to make sure there are no outstanding errors.
As a self-publisher, you can do these editing steps yourself (critique groups can help take care of the first two), just do them one by one. But it's recommended that you hire and freelance editor to check your work. A simple search will bring up hundreds of results for different services. The only thing you have to be cautious about is price, which can range from $300 to $3,000!
Remember: High price does not mean better quality! You may bet it . . . or you may not. The best thing to do is research!